Archive for December, 2010
By: Rob Brayl
Meet the latest foreign fix — 2NE1 — quite possibly the most popular hip hop/pop girl group in South Korea. The music is straight up manufactured crack, simply meant to entertain and to make ya bob your weave back and forth. It also kinda/sorta makes me want to drive in a tiny sports car really fast with the windows down while blasting the song. (Ok, that’s a little douchey, but ya get the point.)
You’ve been warned!
By: Maria Ciezak
Unique in his own right, Lupe Fiasco is one of my favorite hip hop artists out. The Show Goes On is the first smash to be released off of his highly anticipated album Laser, due out March 8th.
Lupe marks his return with a single built around a sped-up sample from Float On, the quirky 2004 hit from brilliant rock band, Modest Mouse. An excellent song to sample, for it gives hip hop a little kick/push. With all of the battling between Lupe and Atlantic Records, this radio-friendly jam should definitely reach the audience that wants to hear it most.
The track’s video proves Mr. Fiasco’s show will go on, for quite some time.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Music at times is nothing more than a swift thrust into oblivion. Kisses laced with adrenochrome. Full of grit and grime. Death by way of poetry. I recall times when music pulled at me like gravity, and forced me to be honest about my pain. There are so many bands that saved my life in so many ways. But then, you push through the struggle, come out on top, and forget who helped you beat that horror down. I donâ€™t wanna let that happen. So Iâ€™m going to send a solid high five and sincere thank you to Dope, one of the bands that delivered me from trauma.
Dope has never been anything but honest. They donâ€™t put on airs, because they know the kind of people who listen to them are sick of all the fakery in the world. Theyâ€™re the ones you go to when your blood is hard boiled and you need some angry escapism. After all the punches are pulled and your soul has been scooped out and cleaned, you leave feeling refreshed and powerful. They can pummel the magic through your mind or keep the underbeat slow and strong, but theyâ€™ll always give you a taste of pain, peril, and victory.
This army of energy started up mid-nineties, and hasnâ€™t slowed down yet. Their last album No Regrets was shouted down from the skies last year, and all Iâ€™m hoping is theyâ€™ll have some metallicious tunes to slam into our hearts in 2011.
To get a taste of their hard and soft, first get a whiff of the toxic stench in Violence, then cool off with the empowering I Am.
By: Rob Brayl
[Taken from the I Am World Tour DVD Documentary]
By: Rob Brayl
On December 26, 2002, the world lost an incredible artist — photographer Herb Ritts. As a way to somehow show my respect and heartfelt appreciation for his work and life, I thought I would create a post honoring the beauty he created in the world.
Ritts died of complications from pneumonia at the age of 50. According to his publicist, Herb was HIV-positive at the time, but the pneumonia that led to his death was not associated with his status.
The first video Ritts ever directed was Madonna’s Cherish in 1989. He went on to direct and to win MTV Video Awards for his work on music videos by Janet Jackson and Chris Isaak. Ritts also directed the music video for Michael Jackson’s In the Closet (which featured supermodel Naomi Campbell) among a slew of others which were all stamped with a visual fingerprint all his own.
In my opinion, Wicked Game remains the most gorgeous video of all time.
During the height of his success, the times of equality were still highly repressed. The fact that Ritts was an openly gay man who created such cultural iconic pieces of film that touched the masses (no matter what race, gender, class or sexual orientation) speaks volumes to the truth that art, much like life, should be a canvas that doesn’t discriminate.
Celebrate Ritts’ life with three of my favorite pieces from his collection below.
Visit the Herb Ritts Foundation to learn more.
Janet Jackson – Love Will Never Do Without You
Uploaded by jpdc11. – Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.
By: Rob Brayl
I’ve had a serious pop crush on Jesse McCartney since his Beautiful Soul days, so needless to say I’m pretty stoked for his latest effort to hit shelves. His fourth studio record, Have It All, will continue to showcase McCartney in the vein of a mature R&B dipped sound.
According to Wiki: After 3 release date changes, most previous being December 28th, 2010, Have It All will now be released in early 2011. On December 3rd, McCartney said in an interview with Crash from Kiss 95.1, â€œIâ€™ve been in the studio for the last three or four weeks and came up with some stuff that people are kind of excited about, so weâ€™re gonna hold off and wait till the new year and hopefully give the fans some extra material since they have to wait.â€ — Arg. Excuse me while I sound like a crazebot but I want this album already!
His work with children’s cancer patients at City of Hope left us touched, but besides his effort to give back, not many men can pull off pop music the way Jesse McCartney can, and for that he continues to leave us impressed, not only as a performer but as an incredible songwriter (after all, he wrote international smash Bleeding Love for Leona Lewis).
Check out JM performing the track Mrs. Mistake (taken from the upcoming disc) below. Talk about a hit record. This track is pure pop perfection.
[Related Post: Jesse McCartney's C*ck Falls Off]
By: Maria Ciezak
Gotta love my girl, Kelly Clarkson. Recently, Kelly previewed some new music at the A Night For Hope 2010 benefit concert and as usual her voice was flawless. The concert benefited the Houses of Hope orphanages in Zimbabwe and South Africa. You Still Won’t Know What It’s Like is the title of the single. This is just a little taste of what to expect from Ms. Clarkson in 2011.
By: Rob Brayl
LeAnn Rimes recently joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles at their annual Christmas event titled Comfort & Joy, dedicating the show to the memory of troubled gay teens who committed suicide after being bullied this past year.
Rimes, who entered the stage holding a single red rose quickly became emotional as she began to dedicate her final song of the evening to the tragic loss of teens who had been tormented for being gay.
â€œIt’s been an incredible year, but also a very tragic year for a lot of young gay men and women who have been taking their own lives because they can’t be themselves,â€ Rimes said to the audience.
When she started to tear up, an audience member yelled: â€œWe love you!â€
â€œIt’s really sad when people can’t be themselves,â€ she finished before singing The Rose with the group.
Watch the touching performance below.
By: Rob Brayl
Aside from his serious work with the UN Foundation and Haiti relief, Kris Allen is usually a nut. Someone got hit with the looks stick and was also served a big fat bowl of lucky luck charms. He ain’t just a pretty face, he’s got a sweet soul’d out voice and quite the witty wit wit to boot.
Check out Kris Allen and his French Bulldog pup, Zorro, in action below + a live acoustic cover of MJ’s classic Man In The Mirror following. (Notice the comedic commentary before the song begins. Love this guy!)
By: Rob Brayl
Thought this would a perfect message to re-feature during the season of giving. Notice how she references Jack Kerouac when she says “never say a commonplace thing” when speaking of the vid:
Check out the story underneath Katy Perry’s inspirational smash below.
[Related Post: Perry's Substance Bursts Through]
By: Maria Ciezak
RIVER CITY EXTENSION:
Joe Michelini, guitar, vocals, bass
Jenn Fantaccione, cello, trumpet, bass
Mike Costaney, drums
Dan Melius, trumpet, percussion, vocals
James Ramirez, bass, banjo
Nick Cucci, guitar, percussion, vocals
Patrick Oâ€™Brien, keys, percussion
Sam Tacon, vocals, percussion
MC: You guys represent Jersey with pride. How would you describe the music scene out here to people who have never been?
RCE: Iâ€™ve always thought the music scene here was great, but our band was born in a golden age. Not only do we have the ability to create at the push of the button, but we have the ability to share those things as well thanks to the internet. On top of that, there is a great renaissance happening in Asbury Park; there is a good community. We like it here. It gets aggressive from time to time just like any other artistic scene, but our job as a band who has started to see a small amount of light at the end of the tunnel is to go tell it on the mountain, and bring hope and peace to musicians and artists alike that are struggling just like us to create and feel normal. I want to let them know that we can help each other, we have to actually. I think a lot of people in Asbury Park/Toms River already know that, itâ€™s just a matter of making those relationships stronger and more meaningful as the years go on.
MC: Tell us a little about the meaning behind the name River City Extension.
RCE: The name River City Extension comes from a song called The Trouble With River Cities, by a Brooklyn based band called Pela. The song meant a lot to me, and I thought of it as an extension of my life…you know, I live in a river city. Itâ€™s a heavy song, and they are a great band. They broke up, but we did a lot of work with them before and even after they did. Their bass player, Eric Sanderson, produced our LP The Unmistakable Man.
MC: What genre of music would you consider yourselves to be?
RCE: I call it Chamber-Punk for lack of a better word. There was a movement in the 60â€™s/70â€™s called Chamber-Pop, and it was basically what bands like Belle & Sebastian ended up being. Itâ€™s pop music, or rock music, thatâ€™s infused with orchestral elements; The Decemberists are a good example. We donâ€™t follow that exact path, and since our live show has always shown a touch of punk influence, I called it Chamber-Punk. We are starting to move away from those things though. Iâ€™m trying to evolve the sound slow enough that no one really knows what happened until they hold both records â€˜up in the lightâ€™ and realize how far weâ€™ve come, we meaning the listener and the band. Itâ€™s going to take a catalog to do that though, so hopefully I donâ€™t end up with my foot in my mouth.
MC: What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
RCE: The biggest challenge for this band has been touring, for sure. Weâ€™re getting better at it, but it wasnâ€™t even all us. Our first tour a deer wrecked my Dadâ€™s Jeep, a rock split the windshield on the new van we had to buy because our old van overheated, half of us did the tour in a Mazda, just things like that. It was hard. We got separated, we are still learning how to live with and respect each otherâ€™s needs on the road…touring is not easy, but we all love it.
MC: I recently read in an interview that Joe stated you guys are more concerned about people liking your music than becoming popular. Do you guys as a group feel these go hand in hand?
RCE: Yes and no, thatâ€™s a tricky situation. I want as many people as possible to like the band so that they have something to hold onto that means something to them, and touches them. Music can do that. Iâ€™m sure to some extent that means becoming popular, which no one is against, but I donâ€™t think anyone is shooting for celebrity status. Our bass player James put it really well when he said he wants to be like Coldplay minus Chris Martin — nobody bothers you when you walk down the street, or get coffee or whatever, but you still get to reach a huge audience and feel great about the music you are creating and the influence you are having on the world.
MC: I can luckily say that I have been to your live show. Do you guys have any traditions for shows? Do different cities and crowds influence which songs you play, or is it consistent?
RCE: No, not really. We like to come down into the crowd afterwards and sing a song called The Bone Marrow Twist & Shout if the size of the venue, crowd, etc allow. The more we tour, the more likely it is for us to start having traditions for a certain state or city, but not yet.
MC: Who are River City Extensionâ€™s influences?
RCE: Everything, we all listen to different stuff. I guess as a band, we all really enjoy WHY?, Minus The Bear, Gorillaz, The Roots, Los Campesinos!, Modest Mouse, Guster, Frightened Rabbit, but thatâ€™s the tip of the iceberg, we are all really different. Anathallo is probably the most recent band favorite.
MC: What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
RCE: [Laughs] We try to, but it doesnâ€™t always work that way. Generally we practice for a few hours on Sunday, but thatâ€™s not always the case. With tour coming up, January will probably be loaded with a few intense, long practice sessions. December has been easy though, weâ€™re off for most of the month. For a homecoming show like we just did though, we’re headed out to OH/PA for a few dates, to practice. Getting in front of a crowd is the best kind of rehearsal you can get, next to getting up onstage and playing to no one, next to practicing in a rehearsal room. These all force a different reaction, and they are all really important.
MC: How would you say your lyrics and melody come to you?
RCE: It depends; I get a lot of it in my head while Iâ€™m driving. If I have an idea, I record it on my phone, and then go home and try to turn that seed into a song. Itâ€™s always that way though…just a few notes, or a title, or a lyric, itâ€™s just easier to start when you have something to go off of, even if that something changes by the end of the writing process.
MC: What do you guys do when you arenâ€™t making music?
RCE: A few of us live in different parts of Jersey, so I donâ€™t think we get together as much as we would like to, but it does happen. We spend a lot of our time off the road looking for work, even if itâ€™s a small job here and there. It helps keep us busy, gives us some structure (not to mention pocket change for food on the road, etc). I spend a lot of time writing and working on new material; I think the band spends a lot of time doing the same. Whether they are working on their own music or demos that Iâ€™ve sent to them to learn, we are all constantly feeling the need to create and express ourselves.
MC: Where have you guys performed, and what are some of your favorite venues to jam? And most importantly, where can we find you soon?
RCE: Weâ€™ve performed a lot of cool places. I think our two favorites in NJ are The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and The House of Blues in Atlantic City. In general though, I donâ€™t know if thereâ€™s a city we donâ€™t like playing. We love playing OH and MI, all our PA shows have been fun as well. Recently we played a show at Binghamton University, and it was awesome. It wasnâ€™t our first show there, and Iâ€™m sure it wonâ€™t be our last. You can catch us on a west coast tour this winter with The Get Up Kids, and then later on an acoustic Midwest/Northeast tour with Max Bemis of Say Anything.
MC: Tell BiggerThanBeyonce readers how much you love them, and where they can access your amazing music!
RCE: Iâ€™m pretty sure we feel this good about them.
By: Rob Brayl
HolidayHoliday is composed of: Lillian Ruiz (vocals, center), Graham Bishop (drums and guitar, right), and Matt Swope (keys, left).
Check out their picks below.
Holiday Mixtape Tracks:
Wavves and Best Coast -Got Something For You – Graham
It’s Wavves and Best Coast — can’t get cooler than that, right now, eh? Song’s pretty sweet and super catchy.
Wham – Last Christmas – Lillian
As a wee tot I had the world’s biggest crush on George Michael. My uncle used to make mixtapes for me as a kid and this was on my favorite one. I played it every day until I was six.
the seÃ±ors of marseille – Holly Jolly Christmas – Matt and Graham
Matt and I recorded this song for a Holiday Records special holiday compilation, last christmas. It kinda reminds me of the feeling I get when snow is slowly falling and the city is quieter and calmer than usual. It will forever remind me of the holiday season.
Donny Hathaway – This Christmas – Lillian
Sing this song loudly. Very loudly. You’ll feel like the world is made of joy, marshmallows and sick ass horn arrangements.
Rilo Kiley – Glendora – Graham
“it’s new years eve, i’m in glendora…” every time the holiday season comes around, this song pops in my head. Such a hilariously tragic and catchy picture of the season.
John Denver and The Muppets – Twelve Days of Christmas – Matt
I was obsessed with the Muppets as a kid and today Miss Piggy’s trade-mark “five gold rings” line still echoes in my brain without having to hear it. Why hasn’t Disney overhauled the Muppets anyway? Where did they go?
Charles Brown – Please Come Home For Christmas – Lillian
My favorite lush aunt used to teeter to the record player at around 10pm on Christmas Eve and put this on. It is forever linked to eggnog and drunk swaying, the ultimate signs of holiday cheer.
Slick Rick – Children’s Story – Graham
Just after I turned 16, I got a really sweet soundsystem for my 1993 Nissan Sentra. For the next three years or so, every holiday season, my friend Josh and I would drive through my hometown rapping this song, looking at Christmas lights, and plotting ways to drink underage at our Macaroni Grill Christmas party.
The Velvet Underground – Who Love The Sun – Graham
Riding my bike through the streets of Brooklyn as freezing air cuts at my eyeballs, I am often reminded of how much I love the sun. This song, better than any other I can think of, conveys my bitter resentment that usually comes around every winter, when sweet summer takes her warm and lovely love away from me.
John Legend – Save Room – Lillian
No, this song has nothing to do with saving room in a manger. It is actually not a Christmas song but it’s just…I dunno, it makes me kinda warm and fuzzy inside.
The Beach Boys – The Man With All The Toys – Matt
The Man With All the Toys reminds me of listening to the local AM radio station my dad always listened to in our old Dodge sedan when we would drive to t-ball practice when I was in first and second grade. The station played a ton of Beach Boys during the year, so I guess it should be no surprise they got a lot of use out of this track in December. Either way, it has stuck with me.
Dinosaur Feathers – A Day In The Life Of A Christmas Tree – Graham
Dinosaur Feathers are really great. Every thing they touch is catchy and creative. This one, which I think is an original Christmas song, doesn’t disappoint. Plus, it kinda sounds like a Christmas song for a warm place, which is extra nice when living in a cold place, like New York.
Run DMC – Christmas In Hollis – Matt
Christmas In Hollis was the only rap I could listen to until I was in Jr. High due to parental madness, so it has always had a special place in my heart after hours upon hours of listening to it as the one “cool Christmas song” from 1987.
Listen to the Holiday Mixtape in full (all songs listed above) below!
By: Maria Ciezak
From Chickenfoot to Them Crooked Vultures to The Gracious Few, the rock power group is all to familiar these days. So what is it? Are groups running out of fresh material and moving on to better things, or are successful musicians simply wanting to collaborate for the world to hear? I’ll go with the second option.
The latest heavy metal super group to join the powerhouse roster is The Damned Things. Members consisting of Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy, and Anthrax members Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano, with Keith Buckley and Josh Newton of Every Time I Die. The boys played their first-ever show at The Knitting Factory in NYC this past June, and have had fans hooked ever since. The six-piece band may sound odd on paper, but it’s genius on record.
Debut album Ironiclast has hit the shelves compacted with catchy lyrics, good riffs, and awesome solos. Check out songs Black Heart and Little Darling. Each song brings out the strongest aspects of five extremely talented musicians, bringing each to the forefront. It’s what I like to call a great starting lineup. Nevertheless, itâ€™s remote and way better than anything in hefty rotation on hard rock radio, and a lot more fun. A good mixture of trying new tricks and revisiting comfortable fortes make this a respectable popcorn hang on for anyone who is a fan of the bands which encompass The Damned Things.
If you want an album to start off the new year, The Damned things are no gimmicks, no frills, and no bullshit. This is a straight up rock and roll record.
Check out the newest super group to hit your earwaves.
By: Rob Brayl
-NB [on new album, Strip Me]
Check out NB in all her sweet glory discussing the album + my favorite track (Run, Run, Run) from the new disc following.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Wonderfully confused, tactile yet surreal, undeniably brilliant. Need I say more? Mookie and the Loyalists are lead by Mookie Morris, an ex-Canadian Idol contestant who has an other-worldly amount of smoothness. Together, the band’s a big dollop of bluesy, eclectic sounds, covered in that pretty wrapping paper we like to call rock.
Sometimes itâ€™s toe-tapping rockabilly, or they run head first into a pile of alternative insanity, but no matter what, what they have is jaw-dropping. Watching them on stage is one surprise after another. They jitter and sizzle, like an unpredictable chemical, fully charged and radioactive.
Their first act of rebellion is a cyber-licious EP that took its first gaze of the world less than three months ago. And frankly, Iâ€™m surprised it hasnâ€™t been getting more attention. They grab music by a noose and make it hang from their rafters. Every inch has a disjointed edge, interrupting the linear patterns that would have otherwise existed in their music. This makes for a strangely compelling ride of an album. After every tweak and turn, you feel like youâ€™ve just listened to a maze on record, and thatâ€™s pretty swell.
The intensity of their drive is sealed like concrete. When they pump it, they pump it full volume, and send the message that they wonâ€™t go away until theyâ€™ve left a mark. I say, crank it boys, â€˜cause weâ€™re listening.
Your taste buds are soon to be sated; Mookieâ€™s got a good thing cooking.